Tis’ the season of apples! Do you remember walking around, picking apples, or enjoying breakfast picnics in the orchards in the fall months as children, with your family? As you happily carried home the bushels, you knew it was the time of the year when apple sauces, pies, jams, crisps, and cobblers would dominate the meal plans.
Apples in History
Apples aren’t just crunchy, juicy miracles of nature loaded in fiber, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and vitamins—they also make for a fun Halloween tradition called apple bobbing, or as the Scotts call it ‘dooking.’ Players, with their hands behind their backs, must grab apples floating in a tub. In a more sensual version of the tradition, women would etch their initials on the apples before throwing them in the tub to see which suitor digs into theirs.
It is so much fun to watch people letting go of their pride and bowing to the mighty and mischievous apples, only to be left with wet clothes and an embarrassing grin.
But fun aside what else can apples do for you to stay healthy, disease-free, and at the top of your immunity? Care for an Ayurveda-inspired apple stew recipe that happens to taste like a bit of heaven in your mouth? Here’s everything you need to know about apples.
Apples: Types and Features as per Ayurveda
Raw apples can be drying, cold and astringent in their properties, which can trigger vata imbalance. So if your vata dosha is out of sort, skip raw apples. Go for cooked apples instead. These can help relieve vata-related problems like constipation and bloating. We have shared an apple stew recipe for you below at the end of the article. Raw apples are good for balancing pitta and particular varieties like granny smith are great for drying out excess kapha dosha. While the red ones are sweet and douse high pitta, the green variety like granny smith helps with kapha.
As far as Ayurvedic properties go, apples have sweet to astringent taste, a sweet after taste, their potency is cold, can be heavy to digest, help improve taste, and can improve fertility in males.
Benefits of Apples
Storehouse of Nutrients
We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While today’s apple eaters might not avoid doctors completely, the benefits of apples in your diet are many! Apples, in general, are rich in proteins, fats, minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorous, and iron, vitamins, A,B, and C, and carbohydrates. They also contain the most amount of pectin, a soluble fiber that helps you get rid of excess fats, improves the good bacteria in the guts, fights inflammation, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol, and improves overall immunity.
Apples have multiple known and lesser-known benefits for your overall health. For example, we know they are good for the heart, liver, regulating diabetes, managing appetite, but did you know it also helps prevent certain types of cancers and saves your teeth from decaying?
Preventing Tooth Decay
Apples are called nature’s toothbrush and here’s why: According to research, ”it does produce an immediate reduction in salivary bacterial viability similar to that after tooth brushing.” Chewing fibrous fruits can help clean up the accessible areas in the mouth. But the scientific jury is still out on whether it can help with plaque removal and avoidance of periodontal diseases.
Good for Your Heart
Apples are loaded with powerful antioxidants and flavonoids that help regulate metabolic syndrome, a group of inter-linked conditions that can pose a great risk of heart diseases, including high cholesterol, blood sugar, hypertension, and excess body weight. In a particular study from Nutrition Journal, the diet of about 84,000 women was observed over 14 years and that of 42,000 men over 8 years. It was found that those who consumed most fruits and vegetables, showed a 20% lower risk for heart diseases.
Apples have phytochemicals such as quercetin, phloridzin, chlorogenic acid, which are powerful antioxidants. The flavonoids present in apples help reduce blood sugar, manage blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels, and prevent plaque formation in the arteries. The antioxidants also help reduce the pressure on the arteries.
Cooked apples can actually help you deal with bloating and constipation, thanks to the presence of antioxidants that improve intestinal motility or the movement of food. Apples have laxative properties—called Rechana in Ayurveda—that help fight vata-related constipation, while their astringent properties helps contain diarrheal episodes.
Studies done over decades show that phytochemicals present in apples have neuroprotective properties and they can influence the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) too. Studies showed that supplementing your diet with apple juice, “provides neuroprotection against multiple factors that accompany aging and contribute to AD, including reducing PS-1 expression, Abeta levels, and toxicity, oxidative stress (including that resulting from or exacerbated by Abeta), increasing glutathione, and acetylcholine, compensating for apolipoprotein E deficiency, preventing cognitive decline and fostering organized synaptic activity.”
The presence of soluble fiber like pectin produces satiety, apart from metabolizing lipids and reducing cholesterol levels. As per Ayurveda, weight gain can be due to unfavorable food habits and weak digestive fire that has led to ama deposits, slowing down your metabolism. Eating apples in the morning can strengthen the digestive fire and support better digestion.
Phenol like phloretin is a powerful antioxidant and is known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the lungs. Apple is also known to help prevent several other types of cancers.
Given that we live in a highly oxidative environment and oxidative stress owing to lifestyle triggers and environmental factors are the cause behind many chronic lifestyle disorders including cancers and heart diseases, fruits like apples become an important source of antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress and its consequences on the body.
READ: The Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar
When should you have an apple?
The best time to chew into an apple is in the morning or before noon, since your digestive fire peaks around this time, and apples do require strong agni to digest them well. For this reason, Ayurveda does not recommend having apples at night or in the evening. Having them in the evening or night can also disrupt your motions the next morning, due to their laxative properties. Also, avoid consuming apple seeds. You have probably watched enough crime films to know that apple seeds contain harmful chemicals like amygdalin, a compound composed of cyanide and sugar, that if metabolized in the human digestive system can turn into poisonous hydrogen cyanide!
You can have apples in the form of peel powders, juices, sauces, or you can rustle up a quick stew, that makes a great breakfast—filling, healthy, and provides enough energy to give you the right head start. Since our digestive fire peaks by around noon, anything you eat before then should be easy to digest. When you stew apples you essentially make more pectin, the soluble fiber content, available to your body. The fiber in apples helps detox and cleanse the digestive system, and improve your immunity.
To make it more interesting taste and health-wise, you add spices like cardamom and cinnamon to your apple. Cardamom improves the function of digestive enzymes and cinnamon helps you absorb the nutrients better. The cloves help with blood circulation, keep you warm and regulate sugar levels. Here’s a classic spiced apple stew recipe!
RECIPE: Spiced Apple Stew
1 sweet, organic apple of your choice, chopped into small cubes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
- Pour about 3 Tbsp. of water into a sauce pan and add spices.
- Bring the content in the pan to a boil.
- Add the apple cubes.
- Cover the pan with a tight lid. Let the spices and apple cubes simmer for about 20 minutes; until the apples turn tender.
- Pour the content into a bowl and allow to cool before serving.